All schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) must meet USDA nutrition standards for school lunches. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 authorized improvements to the NSLP to be implemented over a three-year period, starting with the 2012-2013 school year.
In Wake County
According to Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) Child Nutrition Services Director Marilyn Moody, Wake County schools are well prepared to incorporate the new standards for breakfast and lunch, which will align school meals with the Dietary Guidelines of 2010.
Foods served outside the planned school breakfast and lunch program are called “competitive foods.” Competitive foods can be sold a la carte on the lunch line or in vending machines. These foods and beverages are not covered by these new nutrition standards. However, WCPSS continues to offer only snacks in grades K-5 that meet the guidelines set by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Snacks in grades 6-12 are all single-serving packs and contain fewer than 200 calories, and beverages in grades 6-12 meet the Alliance for a Healthier Generation standards as well.
North Carolina General Statute requires that if local schools boards authorize the sale of food and beverages in vending machines, sugary drinks cannot be sold in middle schools, and in high schools, sugary drinks cannot make up more than half of the offerings, and water must be available alongside other drinks. Additionally, 75% of all snacks vended can contain no more than 200 calories per portion.
- Buying School Lunch
If your child purchases lunch through the WCPSS, you can manage your child’s lunch account if there are dietary restrictions or if you just want to control what and how much your kids buy.
For example, you can restrict their purchases by indicating “no snacks” or “snacks on Fridays only.” Your school’s cafeteria manager also can provide a print-out of what your child is buying at school.
- Packing Lunch for School
Pack a healthy lunch for your student, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. This Pack a Healthy Lunch flier is a handy reference.
In North Carolina
North Carolina is one of the few states in the nation that does not provide state funding for school lunches. Advocate for funding to support healthy school lunches in Wake and across the state by contacting your legislators
to urge them to provide funding.
Farm to School
WCPSS schools participate in the North Carolina Farm to School
program, in which produce from North Carolina farmers is delivered to schools through Child Nutrition Services. View the calendar
to learn more about offerings.
Farmers participating in the Farm to School network must be GAP-certified (Good Agricultural Practices). AHA is working to certify farmers in Wake County so that they may provide locally grown, healthy produce to Wake’s youth in school.
AHA created the “Lunch In” event to raise awareness and engage the community to advocate for fresh and healthy school lunches. For this to happen, support is needed at all points in the food chain, including adequate funding.
Through the Lunch In events, two local chefs are invited to battle it out in a school cafeteria’s kitchen to prepare a healthy lunch creation pleasing to the student judges and win the Iron Carrot Award. While the chefs work in the kitchen for an hour, students, families and school staff have the opportunity to visit a variety of fun, interactive, educational booths where they sample healthy local foods, gather healthy meal and snack ideas, enjoy games and art related to food, learn about the school lunch program and more.
AHA is developing a Lunch In toolkit that will enable schools to plan their own Lunch In events. Four WCPSS have hosted Lunch In events since March 2011 (Hunter Elementary, Mills Park Elementary, Wake Forest Elementary and Underwood Elementary) and numerous community partners have participated.